ACT News

Save
Print

Liberal MLA Giulia Jones to push for prostitution exit programs

Liberal MLA Giulia Jones will use information gathered on a controversial overseas study tour to push for prostitution exit programs and new co-operation with federal agencies to stop the trafficking of women in Australia. 

Mrs Jones and Assembly Speaker VIcki Dunne returned from their tour of France, Sweden and Germany last week, having studied laws making it illegal to pay for sex. 

The three-week trip cost taxpayers $35,000 and included Mrs Dunne's husband and a staffer from Mrs Jones' office. 

Before an official report into the trip was provided to MLAs, Mrs Jones said vulnerable women working in the legalised prostitution industry in the ACT could benefit from exit facilities, including safe houses and rehabilitation programs. 

She said Australian authorities should not pretend international traffickers did not target Australia and that local regulators could learn from successes in Sweden which helped reduce the size of the sex industry. 

"I don't think we know 100 per cent where we are at in Canberra with this kind of thing," Mrs Jones said on Monday. 

Advertisement

"We have had cases of slavery here, and we've had at least one conviction. I will look into local Australian Federal Police advice and pursue a conversation [with members of the federal Parliament] about trafficking." 

Mrs Jones, the Canberra Liberals spokeswomen for women, also promised a bi-partisan effort in the ACT if new laws were required to establish exit programs.

She said charities and philanthropic donations could help establish the facilities in Canberra. 

"Because I didn't have all the information I needed beforehand, I haven't had great conversations with the Greens or Labor but now I am in more of a position to have those conversations. If we need legislative change, I will definitely go down that track of working together." 

"In Sweden, it was the women of the Parliament, women across the whole divide, who came together to see this change and I can't see that happening right now. Australia is at a very different place about women's equality."

Media reports of the trip prompted a crackdown by the ACT Remuneration Tribunal, which immediately abolished taxpayer funded study tours and spousal travel for members of the Assembly. 

Mrs Jones defended the trip and said her decision to take a staff member on an overseas study tour for the first time represented better value for money than taking her spouse would have. 

"I am happy to abide by whatever the tribunal decides for us. It is not my role to decide what I'm worth as a politician or what entitlements I should have. I am very happy to work within the system that we have," she said. 

Mrs Jones said no women should be working in Canberra's sex industry if they did not wish to be. 

"I have information gathered from people who have left the sex industry here so its not as though I have gone into this blind. I think I understand fairly well the nature of the business but I am open to receiving further information as needed."